Soddy Daisy Commissioners Studying New Storm Warning System

Friday, May 17, 2013 - by Gail Perry
Students honored
Students honored
- photo by Gail Perry

At the request of the commissioners, City Manager Hardie Stulce arranged for the presentation of an emergency communications network Thursday night at the Soddy Daisy Commission meeting. Emergency sirens that used to come from the fire department were removed to avoid confusion with the sirens coming from the nearby Sequoyah Nuclear Plant. Because of emergency weather conditions in recent years, commissioners are trying to find a way to alert citizens of impending disasters.

Kurt Steier demonstrated how the emergency communication is handled by his company “Code Red,” which is geared for use by cities and counties.

The company compiles and provides data for the system while citizens are urged to sign up additional phone numbers. Notification alerts, originated by the city will be sent via phone calls, texts and email. Recipients of the warnings can be targeted from the entire zone down to a single street. The system is capable of tracking every phone call that goes out, to verify who received the message. Up to five contacts in the city would be given a code to get into the system to record a message and launch the notices. The warning will be repeated three times and would be recorded in full on an answering machine.

Immediate notification of citizens is the goal of this system. Soddy Daisy has a population of around 12,888 with 6,000 households. This system is capable of delivering 1,000 messages per minute, and could be used to warn about any type of emergency. The expense is based upon population, and for a city the size of Soddy Daisy, would cost around $7,000-$7,700 annually. Mr. Steier said that 70 percent of the expense could be reimbursed by FEMA.

An option that is available for an additional cost is to tie the system directly into the National Weather Service’s satellites. This mode would not require a city employee to initiate the warnings - it would be done automatically. In discussion after the presentation, it was noted that automatic weather warnings can be received many other ways such as by weather radio or by signing on to other call systems, so the city need not pay for this service.

Commissioner Jim Adams said he was impressed with all the uses that could be made of the communication network, “I’m sold on it,” he said. Commissioner Gene Shipley commented that his concern is about elderly people receiving notices. Mayor Janice Cagle expressed the opinion that the city should check with other companies that offer similar services and about other ways available to receive weather alerts.

Mr. Stulce told the commissioners that if they are considering purchasing a warning system, it would be prudent to put it in the budget which is currently being created.  All commission members agreed that they wish to pursue it further.

The city commissioners gave two juniors from Soddy Daisy High School certificates of achievements which honored them as recipients of college scholarships from the Public Education Foundation. The principal of the high school told the board that there were only 10 of these scholarships given in the entire country, and for the first time two came from the same school. Both Zachary Egger and Amanda Stewart were awarded $250,000, which will cover any college they want to go to in the world. The criteria of the competition included community service and scholarship achievements among other requirements.  Mr. Egger wants to go either to MIT or Harvard. Ms. Stewart wants to attend Columbia and study engineering.

In response to a recent “scuffle” involving parents and coaches at Kids Club Park, City Attorney Sam Elliott created a new ordinance that authorizes officials of the sponsoring organization of an event to remove an unruly person and call the city police. This would be applicable for incidents occurring on any city-owned property. This new ordinance passed unanimously. During the fray that occurred at the park, no one present had the authority to tell another to leave since it happened at a public place.  

This incident also caused Commissioner Adams to ask that the city’s recreation board require a written agreement with users of the parks so that the city will have some oversight. Since the city owns the property, it should know the board members of organizations using the park and how they are managing the venue, he said. Mayor Cagle commented that the season will be ending in the next couple of weeks and there will be an election for a new board. That would be a good time to do this, she said.

The city manager told the commissioners that a 3,000-pound granite sign has been completed and donated for Veterans Park. It is the commission members' decision to determine the best location for the monument, he said. After discussion, it was decided that it should be placed in the center between the entrance and exit of the park. It should be sitting perpendicular to the flag pole, and raised enough to be above the guard rails. The base will be erected out of stainless steel and faced with brick to match the other monuments in Veterans Park.

Approval was given to purchase 2,600 feet of four-inch fire hose for the cost of $10,736. This was planned for next year’s budget, but because breathing apparatus purchased for the fire department was less than the budgeted amount, this money can be used for the hoses instead.

Permission was given to use Veterans Park for a fundraising event for Allen Elementary School on Saturday, Nov. 1. Council approval was also given to a resident to locate a mobile home in Soddy Daisy at a location that is zoned as a tourist and mobile home park. Commissioners were also invited to a Wall of Honor Society on Saturday.  

Mayor Cagle ended the meeting saying that the commissioners have been working on the new budget and taxes. She said a lot of changes have been made, and added, “More services means more dollars.”

The next Soddy Daisy Commission meeting will be on June 6, at 7 p.m.

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